German brewers demand moratorium on fracking to protect the purity of their beer

By Megan Carpentier
Friday, May 24, 2013 11:16 EDT
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["Young Man Dressed In Leather Pants (Lederhose) Holding An Oktoberfest Beer Stein" on Shutterstock]
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The Association of German Breweries sent a letter this week to German Prime Minister Angela Merkel and six Cabinet Ministers demanding a moratorium on fracking until more research can be carried out to allay concerns of water contamination.

Germans have had strict standards for beer brewing since the 1516 implementation of the Bavarian “Reinheitsgebot,” or purity law, which allowed only malted barley, hops and water to be used in the brewing of beer. (Yeast was allowed later, after it was discovered.) But the strict nature of the law, which remains in effect today, means that no additives of any kind are allowed — especially contaminants in the drinking water.

The breweries association spokeperson, Marc-Oliver Huhnholz, told Bloomberg, “We are concerned that fracking endangers the brewing water that more than half of Germany’s breweries take from private wells.” He explained to The Telegraph, “The water has to be pure and more than half Germany’s brewers have their own wells which are situated outside areas that could be protected under the government’s current planned legislation on fracking.”

Merkel’s coalition in government, which includes Germany’s two mainstream conservative parties, reportedly plans to offer fracking legislation before the September 22, 2013 elections that would allow fracking in some areas but not in others. The main opposition party, the Social Democrats, support a moratorium and the Green Party prefers an outright ban on the practice. The head of the Green Party in parliament, Bärbel Höhn, told Das Bild in January, “Fracking with toxic chemicals is prohibited. But the government wants to allow it in 86 percent of the region. That makes more than just the brewers concerned.”

Germany is under pressure from the European Commission to allow fracking, which involves injecting water and chemicals into the ground to draw out natural gas from rock formations. The practice in under fire in both Europe and the United States because of widespread reports of well-water contamination, health concerns, a poor industry safety record and the possibility that it has caused earthquakes.

["Young Man Dressed In Leather Pants (Lederhose) Holding An Oktoberfest Beer Stein" on Shutterstock]

Megan Carpentier
Megan Carpentier is the executive editor of Raw Story. She previously served as an associate editor at Talking Points Memo; the editor of news and politics at Air America; an editor at Jezebel.com; and an associate editor at Wonkette. Her published works include pieces for the Washington Post, the Washington Independent, Ms Magazine, RH Reality Check, the Women's Media Center, On the Issues, the New York Press, Bitch and Women's eNews.
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